Camping with the Oakland A's: Notes and Photos

We check in with the Oakland A's at spring training camp in Phoenix. Below are some notes and photos from A's practices.

Submarine reliever Chad Bradford throws in front of Manager Ken Macha at practice last week. Bradford began to suffer from back spasms on Sunday and hasn't thrown since. He was feeling better on Monday, but will still not participate in practices until mid-week. Bradford suffered from back problems last spring and during the season.

Fan favorite Eric Byrnes chats on a fan's cell phone at practice on Saturday. Byrnes has been the subject of trade rumors all off-season, but, as of Monday, the plucky outfielder was still with the team.

Who said that baseball was a non-contact sport? A's shortstop Bobby Crosby "takes out" infield coach Ron Washington during a sliding drill. The A's have been running more base-running and bunting drills this spring in an effort to improve the team's fundamental skills this season.

Relief prospect Jairo Garcia is entering spring training trying to impress the A's coaching staff after a rough major league debut last season. Garcia has impressed early on with his velocity, but has continued to struggle with his control. Manager Ken Macha has indicated that Garcia needs to improve his composure on the mound.

Middle-infield prospect Mike Rouse runs down Mark Kotsay during a defensive drill. Rouse impressed the A's coaches last season with his defensive prowess. He struggled with injuries in 2004 and is looking to put himself in a position to be called up to the major leagues if any of the A's middle infielders go down with injuries.

Pitcher Kirk Saarloos stretchs his right-arm during practice. Saarloos surprised the A's coaching staff by arriving in camp in good health. His 2004 season ended early with elbow troubles and, at one point, he was slated for Tommy John surgery. Saarloos avoided the surgery and was able to rehab the elbow back to health.

Saarloos could be an important player for the A's this season, as he gives the team depth both in the starting rotation and the bullpen. Although he is likely to start the season in AAA, it would not be surprising if Saarloos was with the major league team at some point this season.

Japanese import Keiichi Yabu has been the media star of spring camp thus far. Yabu has been followed by a huge contingent of Japanese media, who are documenting his first days in American baseball.

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